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Archaeologists in the field

An Iron Age farm in Stora Tuna

For a couple of weeks in June, archaeologists from Dalarna's museum carried out an archaeological preliminary investigation in Bro outside Borlänge on behalf of Borlänge municipality. Bro is centrally located on Tunaslätten, which is an area rich in antiquities with special significance in Dalarna during the Late Iron Age and early Middle Ages. The name Bridge refers to the bridge where the country road passed over the Tuna River. South of the river is Stora Tuna church and the river was used to divide Stora Tuna parish into two parts: above the bridge and below the bridge.

In 1989, a survey was conducted by the National Heritage Board in the same area when, among other things, post holes were identified. This year's survey was conducted to confirm and delimit the remains they found in the survey -89 and to evaluate the places in the area that have been registered as possible ancient remains in the Cultural Environment Register. In the previous survey and in inventories, slag and pieces of kiln walls have been noted, but also quartz rejections that indicate activity at the site during the Stone Age. The quartz deposits were found just east of the area in question, but archaeologists now found further quartz deposits within the preliminary investigation area. 

During the work, the archaeologists were able to establish a spread of slag and kiln wall fragments throughout the study area and interpret it as meaning that there were iron production and forging sites in the area but that the remains were plowed and the remains were spread in the topsoil over the years. In the western study area, however, there was a concentration of kiln wall pieces.

In the eastern study area, there was an area with settlement remains preserved on a plateau above the slope to the south and the Tuna River. Among other things, they consisted of burials as post holes, ie dug holes in the ground where posts were erected, which here may have been part of a longhouse - a type of building from the Iron Age. Just south of these, a short distance down the slope, a burial site filled with slag and stone was found. In the same area, a find was made of a glass bead: yellow, with white stripes and notches where other stripes have fallen off. It is tentatively dated to the Viking Age or the Middle Ages.

The purpose of preliminary investigations is to produce a basis for a final investigation - which is the next step in the commissioned archeological process. Then it is possible to get a more complete picture of the ancient monument with more or less certain interpretations of the place and you get answers to the questions that are formulated based on the results of the preliminary investigation.

Contact: eva.carlsson@dalarnasmuseum.se

Ceramics that are older than the Middle Ages are found in Dalarna. Therefore, the discussions really started after a private person recently made just such a find in a field in Romme outside Borlänge.

Archaeologist Joakim Wehlin, Dalarna Museum with the ceramic shard.
Photographer: Anders Staffas, editorial staff of Borlänge Tidning

It is always difficult to determine the age of objects based on photographs, but after experts have examined the shard, we are relatively sure. These are ceramics from what archaeologists call martial arts culture. The culture that existed about 4000 years ago is named after the well-made stone axes that people made, but also the ceramics differ, for example through technology and decor.

The ceramic shard and a sketch of the shard. Photo and sketch: Ole Stilborg, SKEA, Stilborg ceramic analysis.

The forerunner of the martial arts culture is called the pit ceramic culture and finds from it have been made several times in the county, but when it comes to the somewhat younger martial arts culture and a period of several thousand years thereafter, there are no ceramic finds from Dalarna. ".

So there is a big void and this little shard fills a small part of this, but far from everything. The find comes from a time when the ceramic tradition ceased in Dalarna. There is no gap both north and south of Dalarna. Why is it like that?  

To get closer to the answer to why this happens, we need to know more about the people who lived at this time. Here, too, the new kermik find plays a major role. The shard probably came from a settlement or possibly a tomb located near the site of the find in Romme.

Can we find that place and carry out an excavation there, we get more knowledge about a relatively unknown part of the prehistory.

- 9-year-old human skull parts found in Skattungbyn

In the spring of 2020, archaeologists from Dalarna's museum carried out efforts in connection with earthworks in Skattungbyn. In the area there are famous Stone Age settlements and hunting pits. Previous studies have shown that several of them date from the time after the last ice age, when the first humans settled in this part of the country about 10 years ago.

Archaeologists found, among other things, a previously unknown iron production site in the pipeline shaft and among the slag was also something as unusual as burnt human bones. The iron production site is probably from Viking times and about 1 years old and relatively common in Dalarna, but why were there human bones there?

We would get the answer after we dated the bones, because they turned out to be 9 years old. It seems that the people who once made iron here have shattered a tomb from the Stone Age, tells Joakim Wehlin, archaeologist at Dalarna Museum.

Graves or human bones from the Stone Age are something that has never been found before in Dalarna. In the acidic moraine soils that largely characterize Dalarna, unburned bones break down relatively quickly. The reason why the bones were found preserved in Skattungbyn is that they are burnt. During the Old Stone Age, however, it was unusual for people to burn their dead, and there are only about twenty examples in the rest of Scandinavia.

Finding bones of this age is a sensation in Dalarna. It is actually unusual wherever you are in Sweden, says Joakim Wehlin. Therefore, we were at first a little unsure when we found the find. If we compare the bones and circumstances of the find in Skattungbyn with other known graves from the period in Scandinavia, there is much to suggest that it is still a grave, but we can not be completely sure, Wehlin continues.

To get an answer as to whether it is a Stone Age tomb that has been found or not, a more comprehensive archaeological investigation would be needed, which the archaeologists at Dalarna's museum hope to carry out during the coming excavation season.

TV Here, archaeologist David Fahlberg, Dalarna's Museum, digs together with the excavator operator in the pipeline shaft.
Photo by Lars Holting
Th The skull parts with a skull. Photo Astrid Lennblad, Bohuslän Museum

Read the article about the ceramic find in Borlänge Tidning here.


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